This issue first hit stands last week. Things have been going badly for the Fantastic Four for nearly a year now (in our time). This newest chapter is… well, it's a breather issue. No terribly compelling new developments, but snippets of moves already in play, and hints of what's on the horizon. Join me, won't you? [Spoilers]

We open in Chicago, where the Scarlet Witch has just saved Reed's life. (Guess that performance review paid off.) Richards was in over his head coming alone to fight magic users, but he hasn't made a lot of good decisions lately, so why should this be any different?

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Wanda is perhaps uniquely suited to understanding the need to recover from a string of screw-ups. She offers Reed genuine encouragement, before going on her way. She gives him hope. Now that is some powerful magic, right there.

A simple two page scene between She-Hulk and Johnny's friend Wyatt Wingfoot serves as, well, catch-up exposition. The FF are falling apart, etc. The only new point it delivers is that whoever has it in for Marvel's First Family is now wise to She-Hulk and Wyatt's involvement.

Elsewhere, Ben Grimm has his own problems. He's ambushed— in the shower, no less— by some third-string bad guys looking to start a ruckus. I get the supposed threat here, but I'm not buying it. (The fight is over in three pages.)

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Ryker's has suped-up power dampeners that are supposed to level the playing field for its inmates, but I find it hard to believe that muscles made of flesh will trump muscles made of (or coated in) rock.

If I'm over-thinking things, so be it. The scene bug me. Vermin, for one, deserves better than to wind up as a flunky, given everything his alter ego's been through. Sandman shows up to lend a foot (tripping and knocking out one of Ben's attackers), which makes even less sense. Why Sandman— a character who can't stand water— would be hanging out in the shower room is beyond me.

Elsewhere, Reed's not doing well. He can't concentrate, his work is suffering, and he knows it. His assistant Cully offers words of encouragement, which just goes to show that no matter what wringer the FF are going through, they have people supporting them. All of 'em. They've worked tirelessly for years to protect the world, and now they're getting help when they need it most. It's touching stuff.

Sue returns from her trip to Latveria (see FF Annual #1), where she failed to reclaim Valeria. [Never mind that her plan was, em, flawed to begin with. She's been deemed an unfit mother: even if she did manage to bring Valeria home, her little girl would go into protective custody along with her other kids.]

ANYWAY: The takeaway here is that Sue's own villainous alter-ego, Malice, may still live in her mind… and is clawing her way out.

Still. Forewarned is forearmed. If Marvel's first power couple can stand together, they've got an honest shot at beating whatever's out to get them. Right?

Let's hope so, for Wyatt's sake. The criminal mastermind out to destroy the FF has employed an archer with a Hawkeye complex to take him out. Still, the FF ain't alone. Their friends and allies are great at timely rescues! Hi Spidey! Hi!

Yeah… I have no idea who this joker is.

And that wraps up FF #11. Not a lot happened, this ish. What did happen was a reminder that even at their worst, the Fantastic Four have allies and friends who are there for them. The Richards clan usually come to the rescue, instead of needing one. Glad to see that they've got quality people (and Sandman) watching their backs.

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James Robinson's maintained the same tone throughout the saga so far, and Leonard Kirk's pencil work is as clean and sharp as ever. Jesus Aburtov's colors are lively, which help to ensure things don't get too moody.

If you've been following FF, go pick it up. This chapter illustrates why we have breather episodes, and it's a good one.

What do you think?

~

Casey Jones is a screenwriter, the author of All Fall Down, and a voiceover artist. He has never been accosted in a prison shower (or any other shower) by supervillains, a fact for which he is always grateful.